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X5 E70 (2007 - 2013)
E70 BMW X5 produced between 2007 and 2013. Discuss the E70 X5 with other BMW owners here.

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  #1  
Old 07-04-2015, 09:10 PM
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kanar200 kanar200 is offline
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Towing >6,000 lbs, >600 lbs tongue weight

Hi Guys,

I am planning to buy a travel trailer. The dry weight is around 6,000 lbs, the tongue weight is 680 lbs. Obviously, I will be over the US towing rating for E70. I am not 100% sure what is the European rating of a standard E70 (6,000 lbs or 7,700 lbs), i.e. do not know whether only vehicles with an increased towing capacity can tow 7,700 lbs or does it depend also on the engine version?

I have done some research and my plan is:

- to switch from OE Euro hitch (rated to 7,700 lbs but only 250 lbs tongue weight) to OE US hitch (with the ugly bumper cut) – I was considering execuhitch, however, execuhitch does not work with weight distribution system. I know that BMW does not recommend using the WDS – the reasons are unclear, at least for me, but after reading a few threads on this I have my amateur opinion on this and I am planning to use the WDS.

- to reinforce the hitch – the most reputable place is Can-Am RV in Canada, unfortunately it is 38 hours drive from my place. Another one is in LA

http://www.rrcfabricationandspeed.com/index.html

- to use BMW packaged controller

- to use weight distribution system (Eaz-Lift 48069 Elite Weight Distributing Hitch Kit - 1,200 lb).

My biggest concern is the tongue weight. With the packed trailer I will be probably around 800+ lbs, therefore, I am planning to reinforce the hitch.

What are the major risks in relation to towing such trailer with X5? Is there a significant risk of the chassis to be damaged when towing with a higher tongue weight?

Of course, because I am making this thread, I am open to comments / skepticism.

Thanks,

kanar
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  #2  
Old 07-04-2015, 09:38 PM
ard ard is offline
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Ive never had fun towing things that were too heavy for the tow vehicle.

Fine if you are going 20 miles with a 7000 ditch witch on an F150....but spending hours and days and weeks underpowered, under weight and fighting physics seems like a bad idea.

my 2 cents
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Old 07-05-2015, 05:09 AM
Michael47 Michael47 is offline
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DON'T DO IT.

The European tow rating is indeed 7,700 lbs, but the OE US hitch, while taking 600 lbs tongue weight, is only rated for 6,000 lbs trailer weight. Only the execuhitch is rated for both 600/7700 lbs.

In any case, BMW categorically states that no WDH equipment must EVER be used with an X5. This is due to the fact it is a unibody vehicle, not a framed truck.

This is waaaaayyy too much for the X5 as a tow vehicle. Don't do it. You are setting yourself up for huge trouble. Mechanical problems out the wazoo, possible failure on the road, a miserable towing experience, as it will render the handling and performance really unpleasant, and worst of all, in the event of an accident, your may find yourself fighting your own insurance company's attempt to deny coverage.

Either find a smaller/lighter TT or buy a bigger truck with which to tow it.
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Old 07-05-2015, 05:20 AM
PAX5 PAX5 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael47 View Post
DON'T DO IT.

The European tow rating is indeed 7,700 lbs, but the OE US hitch, while taking 600 lbs tongue weight, is only rated for 6,000 lbs trailer weight. Only the execuhitch is rated for both 600/7700 lbs.

In any case, BMW categorically states that no WDH equipment must EVER be used with an X5. This is due to the fact it is a unibody vehicle, not a framed truck.

This is waaaaayyy too much for the X5 as a tow vehicle. Don't do it. You are setting yourself up for huge trouble. Mechanical problems out the wazoo, possible failure on the road, a miserable towing experience, as it will render the handling and performance really unpleasant, and worst of all, in the event of an accident, your may find yourself fighting your own insurance company's attempt to deny coverage.

Either find a smaller/lighter TT or buy a bigger truck with which to tow it.
Agree, you're way over the safe towing range!
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  #5  
Old 07-05-2015, 06:39 AM
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kanar200 kanar200 is offline
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Thanks guys! There are a few owners of German SUV/SAV (including X5, Touaregs, Mercedes ML/GL, Porsche Cayenne) posting on Airstream forum. They are towing trailers which are heavier than what I am planning to get. Of course, 80-90% of other Airstream owners are claiming that only trucks should be used to tow (and 3/4 ton truck is recommended), but this another story... All the German car owners are claiming that the cars are handling very good, some of them came from pickups/trucks and also saying that the towing experience is better (better brakes, lower center of gravity, the ball closer to rear axle, better suspension, very good diesel engines, etc.).

I think I will just get a heavy trailer from a dealer and will tow it for testing, i.e. to check how the car is handling with the load.

In relation to WDS - there are unclear information why BMW does not recommend this. I have not found a clear statement on this. Unibody is unlikely the reason, as Touareg is unibody as well and VW allows to use WDS on the car without air suspension (there are also contradicting information on this). The same applies to Porsche - the manual says no WDS, US dealers are saying that no WDS on air suspension.

In BMW case IMO it may be related to the fact the European hitch is different design (similar to execuhitch) and probably this design is not taking WDS that well. BMW AG just did not test the car with WDS as probably there are not enough owners interested in such setup. Just my guess.
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Old 07-05-2015, 07:07 AM
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dcharnet dcharnet is offline
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Have you had any experience towing anything heavy for long distances at highway speeds? Anyone who has and who is not trying to sell you a bigger more profitable trailer will advise you to proceed with caution here. The tow rating includes the weight of the thing towed and also trailer and vehicle contents. The shape of what is being towed is a big factor. My working sense of safety margin after towing race cars in covered trailers all over the place is 75% of max capacity. With my '15 X5 35d, that is 4500 lbs. Also consider the weakest link. My trailer requires a 2" ball. The shank on a 2" ball is rated at 5000 lbs. My motor will pull 8000. My chassis will pull 6000, says BMW. I do not exceed 4500-5000 total combined weight of trailer, contents and vehicle contents. Even that has to be artfully balanced so that at highway speeds on windy days passing 60' of truck I do not go off the road because the tail wags the dog.
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Old 07-05-2015, 08:10 AM
Michael47 Michael47 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kanar200 View Post
Just my guess.
I guess that says it all. Since you are determined, I'll just wish you good luck. Please do not get shy should it prove to be a mistake. Let us know what happens either way.
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  #8  
Old 07-05-2015, 08:16 AM
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finnbmw finnbmw is offline
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Interesting topic as I've been looking for a travel trailer myself. Lance 2185 has caught my eye http://www.lancecamper.com/travel-trailers/2185/#specs , but the hitch tongue weight is 720 lbs. Everything else spec wise would be fine with the X5 (dry weight 4,210 lbs, GVWR 6,000 lbs), so I've been trying to figure out what to do with the tongue weight.

Have you thought about moving around stuff from the front to rear of the trailer? That might be an option to get the hitch weight closer to 600 lbs. Sherline has a nifty little tongue weight scale https://www.sherlinedirect.com/index...TOKEN=30132988

To prevent sway, I've been looking at a friction sway control device http://www.etrailer.com/Weight-Distr...ies/83660.html

Curious, what travel trailer have you been looking at?
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Old 07-05-2015, 11:11 AM
Bunkerdave Bunkerdave is offline
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We originally had an X3 when we decided to buy a Forest River Rpod travel trailer that weighed 3500 lbs gross weight. Towing at the vehicles max capacity, I quickly learned the importance of having headroom. You felt every pound of that trailer behind you. The engine rarely made it out of 3rd gear on the passes and the fuel economy tanked below 9 mpg. You also better have made sure the trailer was balanced appropriately as a tail wagging the dog as semis are flying by is no fun. Bottom line was that it was a stressful driving experience.

The X5 diesel was night and day with a 3500 lb trailer. I still get 17mpg towing and it has plenty of head room. You start going over 50% of a vehicles tow capacity and you start getting into the more stressful range of driving. Brake controller should also be given. We use the Tekonsha 90250 Prodigy RF Electronic Brake Control

http://www.etrailer.com/Brake-Contro...sha/90250.html
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Old 07-05-2015, 05:23 PM
ard ard is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dcharnet View Post
Have you had any experience towing anything heavy for long distances at highway speeds? Anyone who has and who is not trying to sell you a bigger more profitable trailer will advise you to proceed with caution here. .

Precisely.

I know the OP wants to find some magic engineering analysis or convince himself that BMW just derated it- and cautions against WDS- just due to american lawyers...

But as someone who has done a fair bit of towing with various cars and currently has a 17,000 lbs max gooseneck 3 horse+tack room trailer on a real truck, you do not want to be under massed or under powered.

I dont give a crap about ratings...and OP seems to be focussed on ratings. 'Why is it lower than germany", "what it the cause" etc etc.

If BMW rated it at 7700 lbs I would STILL not recommend 7500lbs for anything more than a weekend trip here or there.

Do you understand how a WDS works? The problem is that the tow ball is no longer a pivot. Hence you can get dynamic forces way more that the tongue weight. As the vehicle and trailer 'tip' for and aft, instead of the ball just seeing the tongue, you are 'distributing' the weight onto the chassis. The idea that 'it cant be unibody' because 'other cars allow WDS and have unibody' is simply naive. How about "it is not engineered to tolerate the forces WDS can apply"? is that more believable?

I am reminded of guys that toss caution to the wind and mod their motors to tweak maximum horsepower.... more power to them, if they are the kind of guys that understand the risks and can handle the consequences. You dont strike me as such a pioneer. (lets leave aside the danger aspect- to you, others on the road, and any heirs that mighth be named in a lawsuit...)
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Old 07-05-2015, 09:01 PM
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kanar200 kanar200 is offline
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@finnbmw

I am interested in these trailers

http://www.jayco.com/products/travel...te-hawk/25bhs/
http://www.jayco.com/products/travel...e-hawk/28dsbh/

I prefer the second one, but probably I will go for the first one, because of the length - many campgrounds where I am planning to take it have size restrictions, also there are more options for parking in my area if your trailer is <30 ft

@dcharnet

Not sure what you mean by "heavy"... I was towing a travel trailer in Europe. I do not remember the specs, but that was a big one. In order to be allowed to tow it, I needed to pass a special behind the wheel test in Europe. However, the weight was not what I am planning to tow here in the US as the European trailers are generally lighter. Thus, there are not weight distribution systems in Europe….. none.

@ard

OP believes in German engineering and believes that the car is overbuilt (very subjective judgment). OP does not have any doubts that the car can pull 7,700 lbs. OP is asking about the risks when towing with a higher tongue weight than the rating, i.e. do I risk that the chassis would fall apart in the worst scenario or do I risk that some parts of the chassis could be bent, etc. Simple as that.

I do not intend to start debate what is the recommended size of the trailer that X5 can tow. 80-90% people will say it should be much lighter that I am planning to tow. I understand this, I respect your opinions. I am trying to understand what can happen with the chassis if I apply higher tongue weight than the rating.

EDIT

Here is a little bit about towing and WDS on European SUVs (from Andy Thomson, a folk-hero among Airstreamers)

http://rvlifemag.dgtlpub.com/?i=2251
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  #12  
Old 07-05-2015, 09:49 PM
lpcapital lpcapital is offline
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I'm towing more than 6k on the X5 using a WDH and a sway control bar.

Rock solid, 1/2 inch drop each axle, power is more than appropriate.

Plus it's fun to pass pickups and fill up at the diesel stations. Looks are priceless...
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Old 07-06-2015, 03:35 AM
Michael47 Michael47 is offline
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Be aware that the entire tongue weight is bourne by four bolts in tension. So the first thing that could happen is breaking those bolts, which might lead to the remaining four also breaking when the load on them suddenly changes from compression to sheer. You said you planned to reinforce the hitch, but where to attach that reinforcement is complicated by the lack of a frame. good luck, let us know what you learn.
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Old 07-06-2015, 12:02 PM
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Hmmmm. Interesting. I once towed a 7400 pound trailer with my 2011 35 diesel from Minnesota to Texas. I used the Invisihitch. Had no problems whatsoever. Just a regular hitch. No weight distributing. I didn't know what the tongue weight was, as I had no means of measuring it. The X towed like a champ. I found it better to shift manually when starting off though. The gears change up slowly in full auto mode, burning more fuel. The diesel torque handled it well, engine never bogged down. No trouble at all. I don't think you will have a problem.

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Old 07-06-2015, 05:16 PM
ard ard is offline
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Hmmmm. Interesting. I once towed a 7400 pound trailer with my 2011 35 diesel from Minnesota to Texas.
"once" being the operative word.
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Old 07-06-2015, 07:16 PM
f30jojo f30jojo is online now
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I don't mean to hijack the thread but I've been planning on towing a F30 320i with my 12 X5 diesel from NC to Kansas. I know the engine can handle it, I'm worried about the transmission with the added stress over a 2 day drive with an estimated car and trailer weight of 4500-5000 lbs.
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Old 07-06-2015, 07:19 PM
dnadrifter dnadrifter is offline
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See my post that I just updated. Some information in there about increased tongue weight.
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Old 07-07-2015, 02:06 AM
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"once" being the operative word.
I towed the same trailer from Houston to Oklahoma City and back, and have also towed (several times) a 21 foot Chris Craft, Uhaul car trailers carrying cars I buy from out of state auctions, Dump trailers full of gravel or dirt for landscaping projects.
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Old 07-07-2015, 06:00 AM
PAX5 PAX5 is offline
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Originally Posted by kakalika View Post
I towed the same trailer from Houston to Oklahoma City and back, and have also towed (several times) a 21 foot Chris Craft, Uhaul car trailers carrying cars I buy from out of state auctions, Dump trailers full of gravel or dirt for landscaping projects.
It's the 680 lbs tongue weight OP needs to address ... first!
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Old 07-07-2015, 07:25 AM
mthornt2 mthornt2 is offline
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I have a 2009 x5 35d with a husky centerline wdh and the setup works really well with my jayco x213. It has one of the lightest tung weights at ~425lbs loaded.
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Old 07-07-2015, 09:39 AM
lpcapital lpcapital is offline
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Originally Posted by kanar200 View Post
Here is a little bit about towing and WDS on European SUVs (from Andy Thomson, a folk-hero among Airstreamers)

http://rvlifemag.dgtlpub.com/?i=2251
Thanks for sharing the link!!! I spent last evening reading all his Hitch Hint sections and are very informative.

I wish he was closer so I could pay him a visit to have him dial in my setup, but in the meantime I'll probably going to end up applying some of his tips to my WDS... For once, I'll redo it when the trailer is actually loaded.

Now I'm dealing with desulfating a deep cycle battery...

EDIT: here's a collection of all his articles -> http://www.canamrv.ca/hitch-hints/
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Old 07-08-2015, 03:45 PM
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Most of the major safety concerns have already been posted by others. I will just point out that, of all the various ratings you may be looking at, the rating that has the least (basically zero) tolerance for overloading on the X5 is tongue weight. 600 pounds is the absolute maximum tongue weight you should ever apply to this vehicle, regardless of the hitch you choose.

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Old 07-09-2015, 10:12 AM
lpcapital lpcapital is offline
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Originally Posted by invisihitch View Post
Most of the major safety concerns have already been posted by others. I will just point out that, of all the various ratings you may be looking at, the rating that has the least (basically zero) tolerance for overloading on the X5 is tongue weight. 600 pounds is the absolute maximum tongue weight you should ever apply to this vehicle, regardless of the hitch you choose.

Daryl
daryl@invisihitch.com
That's a bold and definite statement and I'm certain that since you sell hitches, you won't come back with some nonesense about "stressing the component" or "shortening the life of something" -> how have you determined that there's "basically zero tolerance"? what's the result of going to 601?
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Old 07-09-2015, 11:01 AM
u3b3rg33k u3b3rg33k is offline
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That's a bold and definite statement and I'm certain that since you sell hitches, you won't come back with some nonesense about "stressing the component" or "shortening the life of something" -> how have you determined that there's "basically zero tolerance"? what's the result of going to 601?
At some point you will find the straw that broke the camel's back. or in this case, the straw that lifted your front wheels off the ground when going over a funky bump and eliminates your ability to control the direction of your vehicle.

600lbs is a static number - you have to think about dynamic results (lever action of the trailer on the vehicle) when travelling. BMW chose 600lbs as a rating with concerns like "keeping enough weight on the front axle of the tow vehicle to allow for steering" in mind. that 600lbs static may be 1000lbs of lift on the front axle under certain conditions.

Those tolerance numbers aren't failure numbers. the car will not explode at 601lbs. those numbers are factored by figuring in tow vehicle mass/distribution, length, wheelbase, brake thermal capacity, tire friction, and on and on. I have done a lot of driving passenger vans with trailers, and when you're driving on scenic highways up and down mountains, the last thing you want is an overloaded vehicle in an emergency situation.

My understanding of a good WDH is that is it essentially a sub-frame for the receiver so that the weight is attached more firmly, and further forward than a factory hitch. this throws out the rulebook (from an engineering perspective) on things like max tongue weight, but less so on things like maximum trailer weight.

a convenient, but not terribly scientific way to find out if you have too much tongue weight is to look at the package from the side. if the vehicle is raked rearwards, then there is either too much weight on the tongue, or it needs to be moved further forwards. You can see this on many a light duty pickup truck with an overloaded trailer and bed full of stuff. it also reduces front axle weight, which is something you definitely don't want when towing.
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Old 07-09-2015, 06:27 PM
dnadrifter dnadrifter is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by u3b3rg33k View Post

600lbs is a static number - you have to think about dynamic results (lever action of the trailer on the vehicle) when travelling.
This is something that I thought about a lot as I was trying to get my tongue weight down from 660lb. Every time I would go over a big bump, or a sudden dip in the road, or felt the trailer surging, or could see the trailer bouncing, I would think, "how much more tongue weight was being applied in that instant" Double, triple?? Not sure.

I think another thing to consider is not just the reduced weight on the steering axle when these moments occur, but with a unibody frame and the way the hitch on the X5 is attached, the hitch plate is torquing away (out) and down from the body and could put a bending force on that vertical plate.

With a typical truck, the hitch is bolted to the bottom of the frame and tongue weight is applying a force directly down, not out and down.
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